Italian Wedding Soup

photo source:
I had never had Italian Wedding Soup until a few days ago.   I have been to 8 million weddings and I love-me-some-soup, but somehow this tradition passed me by.

After enjoying this meatball goodness at a local restaurant, I wanted to make my own.  Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) has a great recipe that highlights the pasta/spinach/meatballs perfectly.  I've copied the recipe below with my comments/alterations noted.  Enjoy!

photo source: Smitten Kitchen
Italian Wedding Soup
Original recipe by Barefoot Contessa
Serves 6-8

For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken (I bought ground chicken thigh)
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed (I used ground pork sausage)
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs (I only had whole wheat bread and it tasted fine)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (I was all out, so I used all Parmesan)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup 
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups homemade chicken stock (I used store-bought chicken broth)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars (I used orzo)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill (I loved this.  Boyfriend hated it.)
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.
In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.